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EU Court of Justice Annuls Authorization for Chromium Trioxide

from CIRS by

EU,Chemical,Substance,Chromium Trioxide,Authorisation

On April 20, 2023, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) annulled the authorization of chromium trioxide in its manufacture process as to its concerned uses in the following: 

  • formulation of mixtures ('category 1');

  • functional chrome plating ('category 2'); 

  • functional chrome plating with decorative character ('category 3');

  • surface treatment for applications in the aeronautics and aerospace sectors (unrelated to functional chrome plating with decorative character) ('category 4');

  • surface treatment (except passivation of tin-plated steel (electrolytic tin plating – ETP)) for applications in various industry sectors, namely architectural, automotive, metal manufacturing and finishing, and general engineering (unrelated to functional chrome plating or functional chrome plating with decorative character) ('category 5'); and

  • passivation of tin-plated steel (ETP) ('category 6').

Chromium trioxide is a highly toxic substance that is considered to pose significant threats to human health and the environment, and whose authorization is strongly opposed by other EU countries and environmental communities. The reason the ECJ annulled the authorization is because it believed that the European Commission had not made the right assessments and had not adequately considered the potential influence of chromium trioxide on human health and the environment during the authorization process.

Recently, the ECJ delivered the ruling that cancels the upstream authorization for chromium trioxide. In accordance with the evaluation and restriction of new and existing substances under REACH regulation, chromium trioxide is considered to be carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic to reproduction, and is listed on the candidate list and the authorization list. However, the Commission approved multiple uses of chromium trioxide in its decision without adequately considering the risks it poses to human health and the environment. However, the European Commission did not consider its potential risks to human health and the environment when it approved its multiple uses.

The ECJ believed that the Commission failed to meet the requirements of Article 60(4) of the REACH regulation in the authorization of chromium trioxide, as the risks posed by chromium trioxide to human health were inadequately assessed and the conclusion that no alternatives of chromium trioxide can be made. Therefore, the Commission should have rejected the application. However, the ECJ believed that the effect of the decision should be temporarily maintained until the Commission makes a new decision. As a result, the effect of the decision should be preserved for a period of one year following the ruling. During this period, applicants for the authorization of chromium trioxide and downstream users may use the substance, but relevant risk management and monitoring measures shall be complied with. Additionally, the ECJ stipulated that the duration of maintaining the effect of these authorizations should not exceed one year from the date of delivery of the judgment.

CIRS Comments

This verdict has a direct impact on the chromium trioxide industry and its supply chain. In the EU, chromium trioxide is primarily used as a catalyst or coloring agent in surface coatings, electroplates, paints, plastics, and pigments. Upstream suppliers and downstream users may need to seek alternatives or explore new technologies.


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